Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Disappointment of Pedro Martinez

Back in the winter of 2004, I was pretty much fried by the Mets goings-on, or lack thereof. We had gone through Black Friday, Kris & Anna Benson, Art Howe, then the signing on of Omar Minaya while Jim Duquette was still technically the General Manager. Add in Willie Randolph as the new Mets manager and like many Mets fans, I was kinda like - whatever. If not for the Red Sox humiliating the Yankees in the ALCS and winning the World Series, I don't know what I would have done. Thank goodness for bloggers, though I didn't have mine yet.

But imagine my surprise around when the holiday starts to kick in gear and I get a note from my Yankee fan friend Paulie Vee who says- what's this I hear about the Mets getting Pedro? I think my thoughts were like David "Big Papi" Ortiz's -- Pedro aint going to no Mets. But then the contract was signed, the physical was taken, lo and behold, Pedro Martinez - one of the best pitchers my generation has seen - was a New York Met.

And I didn't know what to think.

For one, I knew from the Red Sox babblers that Pedro was injury-prone, he was a bit of a diva and a fly-ass pitcher...but Mr. E and Uncle Gene automatically liked him because he threw down that "fat fuck" (their words, not mine...okay, maybe I agreed) Don Zimmer in that fight in 2003. And when the Mets later signed Carlos Beltran - the perceived crown jewel of that seasons free agent pool - the peanut gallery claimed that if not for Pedro, there would be no Carlos. Obviously, they knew better than I.

And 2005 was exciting. No doubt. The Mets finished above .500 for the first time in what seemed like 800 years. Were a Wild Card contender till the very end. And Pedro took the pressure off old Tom Glavine, who had his first good season since becoming a Met in 2003.

But one thing kind of struck me weird about Pedro in 2005. Two things actually. One was -- most Mets fans are going to remember that home run Ramon Castro hit against Urbina against the Phillies right before the September push. This enabled the Mets to win and the starting pitcher the next day? Pedro. We were going to win the Wild Card, baby!

But he quickly fell apart. It happens. But Pedro doesn't just fall apart. He seems to implode. Couple that with his whole "I want to start my offseason early" and taking off to the DR when it was Mike Piazza's last game as a New York Met (the passing of the torch, if you will) and the last game of the season goes to - Victor Zambrano? Thank goodness the game didn't count. I don't know, that whole episode there - what guy leaves his team on the last day of the season? Obviously, Pedro Martinez had the special Roger Clemens dispensation to leave whenever the fuck he felt like it.

But wait! 2006 was the first year everything started to come together. Carlos Delgado finally made it, along with Big Pud LoDuca, Xavier Nady and Dirty Duaner Sanchez. On paper, that doesn't sound all that intimidating, but add en fuego Jose Reyes, exciting David Wright, another year of Carlos Beltran, it was all so threatening and fun. Add Pedro to the mix and this team was going places!!

Again, two incidences stand out in my mind from that season. One was when the team played an interleague game against the Red Sox. Of course, grandiose gestures were brought out for Pedro, who talked about how much he missed it in Boston, how the only reason he left was because the Mets were the only team who guaranteed a fourth-year.


Now, I understand if he's going to miss the team, the fans, Fenway, whatever. But the "only reason" you are playing for the Mets is because of this? Are you for real? Why not just say - I miss in Fenway, but I have a job to do?

He imploded on the mound and was alternately jeered and cheered off the mound at Fenway. I remember saying that day - this is the Pedro everyone warned us about. From Paulie Vee, to the Sox fan base...this is Diva Pedro - the one who shows when he's not in the mood to do his job.

Then, his pitching started to get erratic...and we all know what happened to Pedro then. He came back to "win" the NL East clincher game against the Pirates in Pittsburgh and left the field in tears. We all knew the Pedro we wanted to pitch in the postseason would not be there.

So that brings me to this point - I know when the team signed Pedro, he brought a legitimacy that had not been seen since maybe Mike Piazza's trade and subsequent contract extension. And yes, I do acknowledge there is a chance Carlos Beltran would not be a Met today if not for Pedro's signing. But where do we draw the line? If the Mets truly believed that making the postseason would be a crapshoot anyway, why even sign Pedro in the first place? If he's supposed to be a major threat in the rotation, how can he be when he's hurt all the fucking time?

Now, before I start ranting some more, I promise I'll bring it full circle. So 2007 comes, and the Mets play is boring to say the least. Needless to say, the fanbase was uber-excited about the prospect of Pedro returning and he did. But then...the team fizzled anyway and he became a non-issue. I also wrote that in my Coop's Crystal Ball piece last year, than whenever Pedro returned, it wouldn't matter anyway. I was hoping it would be POSITIVE though.

So that brings to me 2008. I think as Mets fans, we have to be excited about the pitching rotation. Johan is the ace, we get to see Maine and Oh Pea progress, the pressure is off Mike "Big Pelf" Pelfrey because...Pedro is returning and will be our warrior. So when Willie announces his pitching rotation schedule, imagine my surprise when he says he's going with the lefty-righty-lefty-righty... set up.

Why? I guess because it's un-PC to say - trusted veterans at the top, untrustworthy rookies at the bottom. So much for John Maine being rewarded for being the "ace" in 2007. Sheesh.

But I saw something when I was in Port St Lucie. I was able to see some of the open workouts. And I would see Pedro Martinez walking in late, not participating in the workouts...yes, I saw him do his practice throwing, but that was it.

As he got hurt 3.1 innings into his 2008 season, and tweaked his hamstring while throwing a pitch, I got to thinking.

He didn't pitch in any of the games I was at in Spring Training. This was because he got a special dispensation. Whatever. But then I thought about in 2006, when he didn't pitch the home opener (which was the actual season opener) because he wanted some extra time to get ready. Funny, Tom Glavine, who is on paper "older" than Pedro, didn't need extra time off to get ready. Couple that with missing his last scheduled start of the 2005 regular season and making us suffer through the last regular season game of 2005 with putting Victor Zambrano on the mound...

Pedro has disappointed me more than made me a happy Mets fan these past four years.

Sure, I do recognize that his signing snowballed into a lot of other great things. But where is the gamer Pedro we heard so much about? Where is the warrior? The guy who would brush batters out of the box just for the hell of it?

And where the hell is he when we need him most?

He's hurt. He has a yeast infection. He's really 65 years old and El Duque's dad. He's out for 4-6 weeks, which we know in Mets lingo means August at the very least.

This was the year the pitching was supposed to be the savior. But when Pedro can't stay healthy -- and how much of that has to do with the team not getting on him because he's a "trusted" veteran who can't be told anything -- he truly hurts the team. The team has no depth in the starting rotation because of the Johan trade. And while the Pedro signing did good, Omar has got to realize that he cannot be depended on when we need him most.

Therefore, I am anointing Pedro Martinez the president of the Big Pussy's Posse of 2008.


Ceetar said...

Unfortunately, I have to agree. I really thought Pedro would be healthy this year. Maybe he'd have some arm soreness, or a hurt foot or whatever, and miss a couple of starts, but I figured 28-30 starts for him this year. He really seemed to be 'working hard' in his rehabilitation.

I don't necessarily make much of his special dispensation. He must, and the Mets must, know he's a little fragile. So treating him different from the same formula as everyone else is actually a good thing. I actually think pitchers throw too much between, before starts, and that's part of the reason they think they're done after 100 pitches.

But now, I'm disappointed again. I moped about it a little, but of course Perez and the offense woke me up. I'd love to see Santana and Pedro tearing it up, going strikeout crazy back to back, but that's over with now. Pedro lost in the first round. We don't need him though. Santana-Maine-Perez is all we need, and providing Figueroa and Pelfrey and what ever guys parade through the fifth spot don't pull Jose Limas or Chan Ho Parks, we'll be fine.

Will said...

While I agree that Pedro hasn't been spectacular, or even above average as a Met I don't feel disappointed in the least because I felt like the Pedro signing was less about performance and more about perception. When the Pedro signing took place I thought to myself "I love the guy but the Mets gave too much money and too many years to a guy who's best years are behind him" but as a Mets fan for 30 years I liked the message it sent, it said "The Mets will be a player in this league" which is something the Mets have been short on through the years. You're absolutely right that this helped with the Beltran signing, led the Mets to go after Delgado and finally Santana. While Pedro has not put up the numbers I can't be too disappointed with the product on the field.

That said I have some things to be disappointed about, The Kazmir trade and the less discussed trade of Brian Bannister for the epic Ambiorix Burgos. Bannister has the stuff to win 15 games while Burgos has only finished top 10 the league in wild pitches twice.

kranepool said...

Damn you Coop why do you have to be so logical. Yes all you say is true but damn it I'm a fan of Petey and I'm proud if it. More so I guess due to the Petey of old who I watched go from young Holywood Bum to Le Expo to Old Town Teamer to an Amazin. I feel thatway aout Petey like I do about Linda Ronstadt back in the day I'd give up a year of my life to be with the lovely Linda and be Glad we're Living in the USA but when I see her today Aye Carumba! But you know what eventhough she has not aged well she is still MY LINDA and we can duet any time she likes. Same with Petey (no duet) who can play on my team any time

Super Johan said...

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debmc said...

Coop, your blog just keeps getting better and better.

I can hardly wait to see your recap of this weekend's disaster against the Braves.

Should be a good one, especially on the heels of your T.G. piece. :)

Michael Leggett said...

The Mets knew Pedro was damaged goods, but got him to draw other stars:

He's faded as we speak